Last August, the orbital module of one of the Soyuz spacecraft used to ferry astronauts and cosmonauts to and from the International Space Station was discovered to have a small hole. This hole was an issue, as it was causing an alarming leak of the breathable air inside the ISS into space. The hole appeared to be a human-made drill-hole, not anything like an asteroid strike. It now seems that the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos knows why that hole was there, but they’re refusing to tell NASA. For no good reason, as far as I can tell.
Well, they did provide one reason, but I think you’ll agree, it’s not really that good:
“There must be some secret with us.”
Huh. That’s what the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, told participants at an all-Russian science conference called “Orbit of Youth.”
The hole was found in the Orbital Module of the Soyuz, a spherical-shaped module at the top of the spacecraft that is used for on-orbit living space, docking, and can be used as an airlock in a pinch.
The orbital module is one of the most innovative parts of the Soyuz design, allowing for more living space without a substantial weight increase. It also tends to work best when free of holes, and it’s pretty baffling why Rocosmos would choose to keep the reason why one made it to space with a hole in it a secret.
Are they embarrassed at a manufacturing mistake? Covering up sabotage? An accident in orbit? We wouldn’t have to wildly speculate if they’d just, you know. tell us.
The Soyuz is probably my favorite real-world spacecraft of all time, but it’s very long in the tooth now, and if this is the attitude we can expect from Russia when it comes to the spacecraft that our astronauts rely on to survive, then I think the flights of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon or Boeing’s Starliner crew ferry capsules can’t happen soon enough.